Not So Hot Compost

Hey Everybody. I know it’s only been a couple
days since I showed you when I first put this compost pile together, but it’s actually sitting
here on day 14. That’s just because, when we were down and out of a computer, I was
still shooting video, and as soon as we had the computer back that was the first video
I posted, but it’s actually a couple weeks old. So, here we are today, going to turn
the compost pile on day 14, and I can tell you there’s already some changes that have
been made. Perhaps the first thing you’ll notice when
I pull the cover off of this, is that I’ve given up on the wire mesh. I think it’s a
method that I would use if I was cold composting, where the first time I ever had to deal with
the wire again, I’d already have fine compost, but in this setup, I’m having to try to pull
it off while I still have a lot of brown material in there, such as the straw, and it really
just didn’t hold up. Now that could be because of the wire. Maybe I need a better strength
wire, or just a better design for the cage. But whatever it was, I decided that now that
I used the cage to understand the volume that I need, I’m probably going to be happier just
doing these piles. So you’ll notice that the only wire I’m using anymore is to just help
keep the tarp up off of the compost pile. So, no more wire. Another problem that I’ve had is that the
compost pile never got up to the temperature that it was supposed to, and I think that’s
because the goat manure that I was able to source is already fairly well composted. You
can see that there’s very little pellets left. It’s already broken apart a good bit, and
I think because of that, there wasn’t the amount of nitrogen in here for it to start
breaking down and heating up inside the compost pile. So a couple days ago when I turned this
last, I added a good bit more water and also some blood meal to try to give some real strong
nitrogen boost and hopefully turn the temperature back up inside of this compost pile. Because
the temperature never really boosted up, I still have a good bit of straw, leaves and
other types of carbon materials that are very visible, that I would not expect to see come
day 14, so lets go ahead and take the tarp off and see what we really got. ♪ Music ♫ So you can see all the hay that’s still in
here, and really, the big tell tale is the ants. I’m not even gonna stick my hand in
here to test the heat because those are probably fire ants. The thing is, there being ants
in here tells me that the temperature is way too low still, so lets go ahead and start
to turn this and see if maybe by chance the ants are on the outside of it and not in the
core. Maybe the core is heated up and the ants are just interested in the outside layer
where it’s warm but not too hot. Let’s see what we can find. One thing I learned on day number 4, the first
time we had to turn this, was how important it was to have the right tool. Before, we
only had this 10 tine manure fork, and the problem is everything stuck to it so well
that the hay would kind of like weave itself between these tines whenever you stuck it
into a pile, and so every turn you were sitting there trying to scrape the hay off. So I went
down to the planters supply store here locally and they had this 4 tine pitch fork. It is
a hay fork, and it does a whole lot better. That extra room lets your bulky stringy material
fall through. So what I’ve learned is you really need to have the right tool for the
right stage of this process. Right now, here’s what your basically going to see, I’m gonna
go around the outside of the pile with the hay fork, because there’s still some big stringy
material that’s gonna hold on and allow me to move a lot of material at a time, but not
clog up my tool. They you’re gonna see me turn around and use the manure fork for the
finer materials, but there’s still gonna be a point where the compost will fall right
through these tines, at which point I’m gonna turn around and use a spade, a regular old
shovel. So, always worth while having the right tool for the job. I’ll give you some
links to these tools down below in the show more portion of the video description. Another lesson I learned is about having level
ground. I tossed this pile over to off camera before, and found out that the ground there
goes down fairly significantly, which meant it was a real hassle trying to get all of
the compost out of there. My compost pile was going down, but not because it was actually
shrinking in size, but because I was leaving so much material behind. So, mind your topography. ♪ Music ♫ Okay, so you can see from the pile up over
in this corner of the screen I’m about halfway through. I’ve taken off all of the outside.
This is the core that should have heated up. The best thing I can say is that there’s no
insects, visible insect life in here, but it is cold. There’s no heat to this at all,
and now I’m just stuck. Now I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do to get this to heat back
up, because I know that on day 14 I shouldn’t have this. All this should have turned into
the black stuff.I should reach in here and pull out black dirt on day 14. I shouldn’t
be pulling out clumps of wet hay. So, I know I could just keep turning this and that it
will eventually decompose, but I’d rather know the best way to approach this. I made
no bones about the fact that this is the first time I’ve tried hot composting and while I
have seen a change in the product, it hasn’t changed like I expected it to. Adding in the
blood meal 2 days ago doesn’t seem to have affected this. To the best of my recollection,
this pile still looks exactly like it did 2 days ago. It doesn’t look like any more
decomposition has taken place. I still have leaves and everything. So, what do I do? What’s
your solution to kick-starting this again and getting some more rapid composting done
rather than me now just having to leave this and letting it cold compost the rest of the
winter? Let me know what you think. So I really do want to get y’alls opinion
on this thing, and so I’m trying to think of all the things you might need to know about
to give me some help. So, moisture content, lets see what we can get out of here. My hand
is getting damp but I am not gonna be able to squeeze a physical drop out of that. My
hand is good and damp and you can see that that has kept it’s shape mostly, but it’s
not wet enough that it’s actually dripping, so maybe water’s part of the problem. Okay so I’ve got the whole pile moved and
I’m trying to think what else I can tell you about. You saw me test the water. It did not
drip, it just was damp. You can still see the amount of brown material that is a part
of this. I told you about there being ants on the outside but not in the inside, but
that the inside was the same temperature as the air outside, so there hasn’t been very
much noticeable decrease in volume. I’d say there’s a little bit, but not a significant
amount. I told you that I’ve added nitrogen to it. Primary ingredients have been cow manure,
some chicken manure, some rabbit manure, some hay, some grass clippings, some leaf clippings,
and some wood chips, like inch by inch wood chips gone through a residential wood chipper
that you might have seen on a past video. There’s no smell to it. I’d say it’s got an
earthy smell, not as earthy I would expect or want it to have, but it is never had a
putrid smell, that aerobic scent. So, really I’m just not decomposing the carbon as quick
as I want to. That’s my first take opinion on it, so if you’ve got some experience with
it, please leave a comment below, let me know what you think, might be a way to solve this.
I’ve got a lot of projects going on. Winter’s coming in my area. We’re about to start getting
a lot of rain, and I’d like to try to incorporate this compost into some soil before the rains
come, so if you’ve got any ideas on how I can boost this back up and get it decomposed
so I can put it into the ground, let me know what you think. As always, thank you for watching. We’ll see
you next time.

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